Many Walmart locations allow overnight parking, but the overnight parking policy is at the discretion of individual store managers, a corporate customer service representative said. We called Walmart stores in Arizona, California, Georgia, Massachusetts, Michigan, Oregon, and Texas for a sample percentage of Walmart stores that allow overnight parking. About 80% of the stores we spoke with allow overnight parking for cars and RVs.
Managers must take into account local laws and the availability of parking spaces, so it is best to speak with the manager before you park overnight, even if you have parked at that particular location before. If you attempt to park overnight at a Walmart store that does not allow it, a security or police officer may ask you to leave — or, in some cities, a police officer may issue you a citation.
Parking at Walmart or another business that permits overnight parking is considered “dry camping” (also known as boondocking or dispersed camping). This means that you will not have access to electric hookups, a water supply, or waste disposal.
Walmart Overnight Parking Suggestions
To avoid conflicts when parking overnight at Walmart, keep the following tips in mind:
- Always get permission from management to park, park only where you are told, and obey all regulations.
- You should only park at the Walmart location you choose for one night.
- Do not use a grill or set up awnings and chairs in the parking lot; you should reserve these amenities for designated camping areas, such as state or private campgrounds.
- Make a “thank you” purchase at Walmart and leave your parking area clean.
- Consider the location and neighborhood of the Walmart you intend to park; do not park in a location where you feel unsafe.
Other Dry Camping Options
Our previous research provides details about other places to park and sleep in your car overnight. If you need somewhere to stay for a longer period of time, you may want to consider one of the following options:
- Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Land: The federal government allows dispersed camping in undeveloped areas for 14 days of a 28 day period. Typically, the government does not require a permit unless you want to park at a National Monument, but requirements and restrictions can vary by state. The annual pass for access to BLM land costs about $80.
- Campgrounds: While private campgrounds and state park camping areas are not free, they are usually affordable when compared to hotels, and may provide long-term camping options — many with electric hookups and water access. The BLM also offers many developed campgrounds for a fee; amenities may vary from restrooms, potable water, and electric hookups to just a picnic table and a fire pit. You can reserve some BLM campsites online.
- Harvest Hosts: Members pay about $80 per year for access to a list of over 950 farms, breweries, wineries, museums, and other sites across the U.S. that offer RV parking on their land.